Quos Ego | Zachary Smiley

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Excerpt from an article (circa 3rd April 2017)

No one could have expected disaster near an island too little for offshore insurance companies but spacious for endless coral reef rainbows, glimpsed small animal herds.

Dockworkers, daylaborers mistook neon decorations as if spectres surrounded the private and absolute whiteness of a yacht named Transatlantic Camera. Most fantasies assume the unlimited crab buffet, overpriced spirits downpour throats, their comparisons involves battleships stalled in neutral, numerous oil tankers, fishermen dingy, an old man trawled squid romantics.

Mr Ezra Stavrolakes alongside partier frienemies drifted upon the lawless international ocean, fucked countless hours, drank endless their cultivated insomnia.

Mr Ezra Stavrolakes asleep hadn’t felt pulsated an explosion.

80 bodies strewn about uninterrupted waves.

Only one survivor announced: Drake Falconer.

Text from Zachary Smiley, a short story, “The Cannibal”(first published in 1986)

. . . blonde corpse inside sea foam, blue diamond cocktail dress shredded to ribbons and pallid thighs sunburnt, surfaces facefirst, arm knocked out of joint under seagull horizon descried green oblivious saltwater distances. “Hey you’re alive!” the echoes across black sand, the dark stranger sunkissed near obdurate rock formation submerged, cliff façade arose ancient gnarled eucalyptus their dark cubic zirconium paradiso. He motions toward benumbed arm, makeshift kilt of a chef overcoat swishes, greasy fire stains yellowed, Drake Falconer sees black pubic hair shaved acute, its similitude displays heartfelt. Bones interlocked together after one thrust, pain twisted stiff arm cradled in a fetus position and scream let out “Fuck! Fuck!”

“Halfway certain you died. You feel better?”

“I feel like I died. Where are we? Wait a minute I feel sick like queasy.”

“I don’t know if no one knows we’re stranded but set myself up this nice little outfit already if you’re interested. I’m Extro Randall,” their damp masculine bodies dried silent.

“Nowhere else is here? Nobody left alive?”

Drake paralyzed, smells intestinal rotten seawreck, slender electric wires gnawed like morays, puzzled iron driftwood shrapnel, its sunken nautical architectonics dissected, its starboard cabins tsunamis cracked apart revealed sea urchins swaddled pastel armchairs drowned, fisher crabs sift fluorescent blue paper money fierce tides dissolved, the bottles shatter chardonnay across several blister scarlet asteroidea the hand impaled on blue steeled contortions. Laughter cries aloud, look again toward emergent palm trees desiccated, leopard prowled jungles, sporadic ferns shook their halcyon shadows, tropical thunderstorm crossfades their frail ashen bonfire. Rock Castle shores, uncorked concupiscent grapevines, indistinct meat laid pruned fat, black iron sauce pan engulfed, fishnet recoiled over aluminum cooler and rustic harpoon foreshortened, tarpaulin shrouds above deflated rafts their erratic fire blanket. Randall chisels zebra mussels, held reflective blade shows face suntanned, freckles, scars like iron teardrops, shivers. Radio thrummed fragmentary sonatas, lurid mosquitoes buzzed microseconds, flaxen silkworm inches toward instantaneous heat-death, oils inundated nightfall, zephyr fazed constellations, tides shift pebbled shallows, flames contrast breezy salted coldsnaps their exhausted carnivorous shadows, the insect bites, blood infestations, fractures on black and white shells incarnated murderous screams complimented coconut milk in husked fibrous tumblers their fingerfood smears blue mollusk juices.

Dream illuminated thunderous abyssopelagia, bladders nonplussed over reptilian seabed mist, blind inquisitive proboscis thrust lethal slipstream effect like rapier flashes, tentacluar black mass shudders shapeless orgasm feelers delimited, its apollyon serration devours thoughtless creatures, draconic phosphenes mimicked drunken silvery shoals and arms lustful polypi immolated upheld their depths winnowed continental drift oceans swollen asleep. He walked toward an empty room untimely from spectral curtain breezed open, the insistent pleased moans laid under darker figure limbs enwrapped methodical embraces, its toes flexed, its humanoid muscles undulated scoliosis, hectocotyli flicked impalement, headless rigor on indistinct furniture. Humankind becomes again seminal seaweed, time is seaweed, a sunken city abandoned the translucid atmospheric pressures, ample cemetery floated tropical waves we have ended production, mariners from ancient regimes observed asylums inhuman prototypes inhabited, precedes centuries, perhaps characters still exist inside books intelligences addressed. Drake had cleaved awake next to Randall, sighs are heaved, share naked their fire blanket in unfathomable heat, bonfire smolders charred meat leftovers from dull metal embers dazzled with daybreak. He said, “What time is it?”

Later another dinner and eventual sunset. Drake said, “How long has it been?”

“What do you mean? It’s not even been an hour.”

“I’m sure that plane had us already. Maybe rescue will be here tomorrow. Worst case scenario rescue is a few days away from now. It had seen us anyways.”

Randall outstretcht flat on black sand, further blue diurnal movement ensorcelled sideways an airplane twisted contrails wraithlike behind auspicious clouds from urban scleroses their flight on languid volcanic fumes another distant island, the language of flowers exploded sexual innuendo, branches toward mountainous spinal ridged obsidian inland, magma boulders pulsated underfoot, soon cadaverous dusk like barricaded coral reef overhead. He sat up, looked down an idea of evil their avaricious waves approaches labyrinthine white rock, it spoke to him and tried to interpret it from breezed sea foam an unbroken metal prow like an obelisk divided sun and shadows, a voice through a cloud across unlit tides shaken absent, familiar elements, treasures in secretive ravages, disappointment, odor of alcohol, lustful salt, a black swimsuit found, a paper read the name in its handwritten cursive I, Extro Randall will die, anchovies, more wine bottles unopened.

Here the narrative becomes more difficult, a man swam calm waters, there cold circumstances paralyzed arm movement, swam more tired, typical reveries confused himself, eyes, ears burned, awkward interior monologues and narratorial intervention the infinite sheet of seas hid enormous rotten sun blackened their reflective weaker rays feverish penetrates the number of sentences you need from island to shipwreck what else? Perhaps Randall didn’t swim but perceived encounters, waves as an obstacle left adrift, waters massaged sunburnt shoulders, two violent bodies collided, soon accorded vortex and cornucopia waters send up toppled yardarms horizontal, spars, flotsam, design apparent from debris their hieroglyphics scatters livid, an incomplete record, storm tossed chapters in inaccessible regions, throws like numberless dice drowned corpses, things, messages, experiences the dead would have detailed. Fiction contrives more waves larger like ironical calyx the infinitesimal vectors had been visual tactile layers on him lost below a void, a puerile shadow swam rigid opposition toward skies, its head emerges out of rockier environs, its comet dark hair, its seaweed crawled up dead scuba divers buried deep, appears on the brink asleep, dissolved our realism from terminal scales, rhythmical suspension from severed female head, she ran overhead, enormous siren danced on misshapen waves, fantasies necessitates Poseidon ex machina because the author has never fallen in an actual ocean nevertheless. Swam backward, under cool sunlight, it took on an unusual expression the inhuman dead of night subsisted, some winds falters destiny,  yacht had sailed perpendicular, black ocean sloshes orchestral, declined, a shipwreck is a habitat, thick massive vines orchideous twined around the mast, bejeweled skulls atop docile hermit crab, lifeless air through broken windowpane and the dolphin tail upon nothingness the ulterior demon bacchanal dropped sinuous scales across forepeak. He looked seven feet tall, thin saturnine robes fell in thick cupreous brushstrokes framed aloof, an ivory skeleton warped, its languid exhalation stirs from a wide black hole maw, devours son whole, brain matter against throat twisted smaller, clenches starved cherubic flexed arteries, palatial obscurant backdrop swirls near desiccated titan an anesthetized patient laid asleep, a bleak canvas, a steel mattress, a deep voice reaches Randall, its noworld racked above wine bottles he listened.

Thorough nighttime Drake swallows clear concupiscent milk from white halved coconut shell delicate hands extended over bonfires, black sand feet kicked up, thin irises hazed in blonde hair, pallid skin condition moonlit like lunar dragon scales shed another iced planet, dulcet soliloquies silenced ingrown carnivorous floral pattern against undulated colossal oceans, echoes lugubrious,  his voice redoubled predatory sleight movements. Homeless old shadows light pollutants scatters unfazed in alleyways, “students of Ganymede,” the bright hummingbirds dazzled drunken torpor, Thailand streets they swarmed sex tourism we were like kids left outside, miniscule velour chirps told about syringes their fragile bodies departed fast, hearts, lungs, dying last musical car crashes left maimed, gunfights, bad drugs killed many others. Giant Japanese hornet hunted several men, militant fatigues shivers hard muscles body hair softened, no flights wax heavenward, orgasms in patient tantric thrust, arms swathe barbed wires, thighs thorned rose vines, Drake leashed on blue laced ribbons sweat irritated, led on command, names, dates, etches across heaved dark pectorals their cocks teased one another contaminated warm chiaroscuro. His skin was buried stone tablet, prances alive leopards, hell hounds, Drake loved to look from a bed, sunrays cushioned their raft, its aria held out of climax penetrated ceaseless besotted concrete jungles.

Passed out at dawn and sunset awoke them, Randall said, “Think I’ll explore more today.”

“I’ll tend our damn little paradise in the meantime I guess.”

He returned in seagreen raindrops, fire blanket, tarpaulin flown impassioned angelical shrieks, hurricanes dazed across starlit skies like fireworks winged torrential emerald, reveals spoilt meat, airy bloated arms dangles wet salt, the rustic harpoon arrowed open his abdomen, tropic laughter, birdcalls on funereal marches and dispute territories their rapist horseflies are sated.

More human meat thrown in an aluminum cooler.

Drake lived alone drunken from timeless wine and muscular legs burned in crispy dark smells on infinite limp bonfires isolated, rescuers noticed, sees two fishermen in overalls.

He kissed the nearest man, devours his squirmed tongue, a rotten taste, a sleek iron mouthfeel.

Zachary Smiley graduated from Southeast Missouri State University. He currently lives in the Bootheel. He has recently adopted a cat named Rupert. He has previously published in Journeys poetry.

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